GOSHEN — Beatings, burnings, waterboarding and forced consumption of bleach were among a man’s claims of the violence he witnessed before a Columbia City woman was murdered in Elkhart two years ago.
Robert Porter, of Sturgis, Michigan, gave his account of events leading up to Kimberly Dyer’s death while testifying on Thursday at the trial of Donald Owen Jr. and Mario Angulo Jr. in Elkhart County Circuit Court. Porter also described allegations of he was also beaten, robbed and humiliated.
Owen, 22, and Angulo, 20, are each charged with counts of murder, robbery and criminal confinement as the lead suspects involved in killing Dyer and robbing Porter around Oct. 22, 2019. A third man, Matthew Murzynski, 25, previous pleaded guilty to his role in the case.
Porter spoke for more than three-and-a-half hours where, as a witness for the prosecution, he described the situation from his perspective. He was also grilled by Owen and Angulo’s attorneys as they targeted his credibility by questioning his claims and his truthfulness at times.
Porter, currently a LaGrange County Jail inmate, admitted at the start of his testimony he got involved in this case as a marijuana dealer. He’d connected with three people, including Dyer, through Facebook. They met up in Michigan, and two of the people convinced Porter to go with them to Elkhart, while Dyer stayed behind as apparent insurance, according to the testimony.
They ended up at a house along Old Orchard Lane where Porter said he became acquainted with Angulo, Murzynski and others. He hung out and dealt marijuana, either through trade by taking things like jewelry in exchange, or by “fronting” marijuana on a sort of tab.
Hours later, when the marijuana dried up, Porter was taken back home, and he said he restocked with about two or three pounds of weed. He also left his gun in Michigan, claiming he felt comfortable around the group and didn’t need it, and he returned to Elkhart with Dyer joining him.
The party continued, though there was a time, Porter said, Dyer left for a while. When she came back, the situation changed. Porter said Angulo, Murzynski and another person searched through Dyer’s belongings and found some stolen items, as well as papers that included people’s names and a diagram of the house. Suspicions were raised that Dyer could have either been snitching to police or possibly feeding intelligence to a rival gang, according to Porter’s testimony. He alleged Murzynski and Owen are affiliated with the Latin Kings gang.
Porter said Murzynski ordered Dyer down into the house’s basement, and described that she was interrogated, loudly, at times by Murzynski, Angulo and at least two others.
Though the situation soured, Porter said he actually left the house and returned to Michigan for another drug deal. He detoured into another story where he said he’d gotten robbed during the deal, and then returned to the house with the interrogation still underway.
The group allegedly turned on Porter upon his return. He said Angulo and another woman began questioning and accusing him of raping Dyer. Porter said he was “appalled” by the claims.
“Just because I sell marijuana, doesn’t make me a bad person,” Porter testified.
Outnumbered, and now unarmed thanks to his earlier decision, Porter said he was strip-searched, and then alleged Angulo and Murzynski led him to a room in the basement where he found Dyer on her stomach with her wrists and ankles tied.
“When I did see her, she looked like she’d got her … kicked,” Porter said, describing what he saw shortly after entering the basement room.
Several minutes after he was led to the room, Porter said Owen arrived, wearing sunglasses, wearing a bandanna over his face and carrying a blade.
“That’s when I knew … it was going to hit the fan. And that’s when they robbed me of my jewelry, my rings,” Porter said.
Claiming Owen stated, “I have to get paid,” Porter said he was next forced to the ground, tied at the wrists and ankles with cords, and then kicked by the three for several seconds.
The situation apparently further spiraled as Porter said Angulo released his bindings by burning them off with a pocket torch, which also burnt his wrists and ankles. Porter claimed he was apparently made to watch Angulo waterboard Dyer in the basement for information for several minutes.
“It was horrifying,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life.”
Porter also alleged he was led back upstairs to a kitchen table where a series of more events took place. He said he was: beaten; made to endure several attempts to record a mobile phone video, in what he alleged was an attempt to frame him; confronted by Owen to cover the tattoo of a chess piece that resembled the Latin Kings logo; made to write out the names and locations of his children; and forced to sit in a dog cage where he said he ate dog food, a spider, and had to burn a cigarette out on his tongue.
“It was to humiliate me more than to confine me,” Porter said.
When Porter returned to the basement bedroom, he said he saw Dyer tied up in a closet with her head shaved and her mouth duct taped. Porter said he passed out after being awake for about two days by that time.
Toward the end of the ordeal, after waking back up, Porter said he heard Owen giving an order for him and Dyer to be put to sleep, which he said he took to mean permanently.
He then described seeing Dyer duct taped from her head to her shoulders, like a mummy, except a mouth hole was left open. Porter alleged Angulo and Murzynski poured bleach down Dyer’s throat through a garden hose, and in later testimony, he identified the bottle’s brand.
Porter claimed his chance to survive the night was to help Angulo strangle Dyer with a garden hose. And he did, claiming he pulled on one end of the hose back while Angulo pulled the other end.
Porter said he was then led out of the room, and it was the last time he saw Dyer alive.
“I was in awe of, like, what just happened. I couldn’t believe, you know, that was going on,” Porter said.
In her opening arguments Tuesday, Elkhart County Prosecutor Vicki Becker had alleged Angulo slashed Dyer’s throat when she died. Investigators found Dyer’s body days later near Constantine, Michigan. The body had been stuffed in a plastic bin and dumped into a marshy area.
During his testimony, Porter admitted he’d left out the details of the strangulation when he was interviewed by detectives in late November 2019, saying at the time, he was afraid he’d either face trouble from police or the suspects.
Under cross-examination Thursday, Porter claimed to Angulo’s attorney, Thomas Dixon, he could recognize the Latin Kings handshake because he watches a lot of Discovery Channel, or he learned it through experience, and he’s able to distinguish between different signs.
“That also coincides with keeping myself safe on who to know and who to mess with,” Porter told Dixon.
He also said he wasn’t affiliated with any gangs, and multiple times, he denied having a rifle while at the house, that he guarded Dyer’s room, or that he put his foot in her back during the hose choking.
Under further questioning, Porter denied telling other people he’d attacked Dyer, raped her, or killed anybody.
And though at first he denied using drugs in his testimony, Porter admitted under the cross-examination that he’d done some methamphetamine and marijuana.
He was also grilled about inconsistencies with his testimony and statements he gave during a deposition last March.
The trial is scheduled to continue Friday.